Humbled and Stoked on Downieville

I raced Downieville (XC, Expert) on Saturday. First Dville, first Mountain Bike race. No course pre-ride. No goals other than don’t destroy body or bike and *have fun*. Mission accomplished — but easier said than done. Ended up 11th, which I’m still strangely pleased about . . . or don’t care about. This day is the epitome of the experience — the journey — trumping any goal. Bike racing can cloud that life maxim but it shouldn’t. I won’t go deep in detail here as others will and it is not my story — but some teammates got hurt on the course (they are ok now overall). Perspective. I can say that this was one of the best days of bike racing I’ve ever experienced blowing away many where I exceeded my expectation in results (including winning – the ultimate goal — right?). Awesome. Random thoughts and observations:

*This is beyond a race. The day reminded me more of a ski mountaineering adventure/epic. Sensory assault. Physical and mental suffering, incredible highs and lows, every moment rich and layered and deep . . . a trip.

*Wow am I slow on the descent . . . to get better here is some combo of growing sack, practice — at speed — on more technical terrain than I typically ride, pre-riding course/course knowledge. Bike/gear is no excuse . . . dudes on hardtails (Conrad/Matt) smoked me. Did I mention this was my first Mt bike race . . .

*The post race scene in Dville is beyond awesome. No cars (mine was 13 miles away in Sierra City at the start). Post race endorphins. Teammates/friends and sharing stories. Cold beer, food, bike, bike, bike. Tiny old town. Cold clear river. Bike jump arial show into river. On and on

This event is firmly on the annual calendar, hopefully for the whole family next year. Riding back to my car late in the afternoon (shuttle bailed, I didn’t care?) looking forward to the short and beautiful drive back to Truckee and hanging w/ my family I felt incredibly humbled and fortunate and just stoked . . . still buzzing 2 days later.

From the Sierra Nevada to France, it’s on

This article was originally published in the Friday July 2rd 2009 edition of the Lake Tahoe paper, the Sierra Sun.

About 20 local hardcores hit the first ride/race in the Chickadee Underground Series last Sunday. It’s a 52-mile epic link-up of much of the best North Tahoe single-track one can ride, rolling from and returning to Blue Coyote in Truckee. A fantastic outing.

Most got a little lost or had mechanical issues — or both. That is to be expected. A few had slightly more experience with the route and blazed it. In the end all persevered and ended up back at Blue Coyote for beers and food that never tasted so good.

It was great preparation for Downieville.

Downieville Downhill, Death Ride and the Tour de France

The Downieville Downhill takes place in the Downieville/Sierra Buttes area the weekend of July 11. Winners will be able to climb and descend. Reports are the wet spring has the course in fantastic shape. Come to race, stay for the scene, check out the carnage.

Also next Saturday, July 11, is the “Death Ride” out of Marklieville, which earns its name from its 130 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing. So road or dirt, you’ve got your choice of epics.

On the larger stage — make that the largest stage — the Tour de France starts July 3.

Lance Armstrong makes his return to the most prestigious bike race on the planet. Can the former best stage racer in the world win an unheard of eighth title — with the world’s current best stage racer, Alberto Contador, on his own team?

This is a great story if nothing else. I say Contador blows his doors off, and, well, he should. Lance is old. Come on! The race airs every day for about a hundred hours on the Versus channel. If you’ve got a DVR, record it — this is the best way to catch the critical race deciding “action,” assuming you have some other semblance of a life and schedule for the month of July.

That being said, kick back and relax for a full four to six hours on a few days and take it in like the French — as it unfolds. Slow down and take a virtual spin with the peleton through the gorgeous French countryside. You’ll be stoked to get out and ride yourself!

The local road report

Of course the north shore of Donner Lake has been under construction all spring and summer and a nightmare to ride. But, that has led many to discover the awesome route around the south shore of the lake.

The road dead-ends for cars (not bikes) at the state park, so vehicle traffic is minimal. There are more joggers and bikes than cars. And now, the north shore construction is getting very close to being done. It’s wide and smooth, and a bike path stripe to come!

At least as of July 1, riding clockwise around Donner Lake was awesome. Do it in the morning when the lake is glass and traffic is light and the temps are in between the chill of night and heat of the afternoon. Wave to everyone. Do it alone or with friends, on anything with two wheels.

Wow, that was sweet, let’s do it again.

Team rider Andy Scott is the author of this week’s Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing column. Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing (www.cwcracing.org) is a Truckee-based cycling team focused on racing and local bike advocacy.